Let’s do a quick recap: In Part 1 CPA Australia fell in love with Yammer (our chosen enterprise microblogging platform). Part 2 saw us identifying benefits we’ve experienced and in this final instalment, almost 18 months after implementation I share some of our lessons learned – lessons that can be applied to implementing an initiative like enterprise microblogging but which are also transferable to other enterprise 2.0 or social media initiatives within your workplace.
Lesson 1: Who owns it? (now and later)
It’s great to have the initiative and passion to start a project, but if it’s to have any longevity it’s important to identify who will own the initiative past the project end. In our case, we implemented and continue to maintain ownership of the platform (the technology bit), however there is no ongoing owner of Yammer as a whole. This means its viral success is not enough – it still requires high level support for it to move forward and be adopted as a business system. Only then when its used to its greatest capacity will we see the greatest benefits.
Lesson 2: Meaure from the start (you’ll thank me later)
At some point you will have to justify the project, regardless of cost. Quantitative measures can be considerably easy to determine; however, the true value in Enterprise 2.0 initiatives is in the qualitative value. This may be as simple as capturing success stories, or as complex as determining sentiment, influence and the like. It’s critical to build in measurements right from the beginning of the project, even if they are a wild guess or broad estimation of use. It gives you something to benchmark on which can then be adjusted and evolved over time as the real measurements become apparent.
Lesson 3: Be ready for what may (or may not) happen
It’s more than acceptable to start small, but have some flexibility in your plan to allow it sufficient room to grow – think through the consequences of your strategy. We didn’t expect nor plan for the success of Yammer, which has in some ways curbed its potential for the time being as we work to iron out issues of ownership, resourcing and integration. Planning should not hamper project energy; however, it’s important all elements are considered to ensure ongoing longevity.
Lesson 4: Integrate (rinse, wash, repeat)
Adoption and success is greated when initiatives like Yammer are integrated into everyday work practices. Currently, Yammer isn’t integrated with any of CPA Australia’s other systems – not even a hyperlink from our intranet. As a result, it requires staff to remember to visit the site rather than be prompted. Ideally, it would be at least visible in some form amongst other organisational systems, or adopted for project communications. Even greater role modelling from senior managers would be great to aid adoption as it gives implied permission for all to participate.
Lesson 5: Make it easy
Adoption will be aided if the process for participation is easy – especially if it’s not integrated anywhere else.
- It must be simple to join, simple to get started and simple to work out what it’s all about.
- Before inviting the masses it’s worth piloting it amongst a few, even if for a short amount of time. It provides an example for others in how people are using it and assists them in getting started.
- Establish users with guidelines for what constitutes appropriate posting. This provides clear boundaries and counter intuitively increases the chance of participation as people are immediately clear and comfortable with what’s acceptable within the space.
- Create reasons for people to use these new systems, for example team communication or project updates. Once they have the opportunity to experience the value, there is more likelihood for ongoing adoption.
Our story is one of starting an initiative, observing what happens and then determining the next action. As a stealth project, it is solely sustained and maintained by those users who find the value in it for their own work practices and champion its use with others. So as you can see, our lessons really focus around determining practices for purposing, creating and maintaining a flourishing and self sustaining initiative with organisational support.
So now you have my full story – I would like to hear yours!
PS: I was also privileged enough to share this at VALA2010 last week and where ‘stealth project’ became a popular term! If you want more more details, stats and the theory behind our experience it’s here.